Posts Tagged ‘history’

Empress Wu Zetian
The Legendary Women of World History Book 5
70 pages
The most hated woman in Chinese history! Travel back in time over one thousand years and meet the first and only
female emperor of China. Born Wu Zhao and given the reign title
“Zetian” just weeks before her death in 705 CE, Empress Wu
was the unwanted daughter of Chancellor Wu Shihuo — too bright, too
educated, and too politically focused to make a good wife according
to contemporary interpretations of the Analects of
Confucius.
Married off at age 14 as a low-ranking concubine to Emperor Taizong, Wu’s
intelligence, beauty, and charm won her a place as his secretary and
protégé, political experience that would empower her to transform
the lives of countless billions.
Explore the life of Empress Wu and discover why the world is a vastly
different place because she dared what no woman in China before or
since ever dreamed of.

Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd: The

Warrior Princess of Deheubarth
The Legendary Women of World History Book 6
56 pages
Queen Elizabeth Tudor’s Heroic Welsh Foremother!

Born in 1097 in Aberffraw Castle, Princess Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd ap
Cynan was always destined for great things. As daughter to one of
Gwynedd’s greatest warriors she grew up strong and passionate — more
than a match for her older brothers.

At sixteen Gwenllian’s life changed forever when she fell in love with
Prince Gruffydd ap Rhys, the beleaguered heir to Rhys ap Tewdur of
Deheubarth. Together husband and wife fought for and ruled southern
Wales, challenging the Norman Conquest of Wales and proving once and
for all the nobility and courage of the Welsh people, a courage that
endures across the centuries and lives in the heart of every Welsh
man, woman, and child.

Includes an extensive timeline covering over 400 years of Welsh and English
medieval history.


Ten Facts about the Legendary Women of World History You Probably Did Not Know

By Laurel A. Rockefeller

  1. Catherine de Valois was a few days shy of her fourteenth birthday when King Henry V of England defeated her father at the Battle of Agincourt.

Shakespeare makes her appear much older at the time in large part because in the play, the Treaty of Troyes appears to happen very soon after Agincourt.  In truth there is a 4 ½ year gap between those two events during which Catherine grows up –and grows up hating King Henry. When she finally marries him on 2 June 1420 she is 18 ½ years old and wise to the workings of royal courts.

  1. Queen Mary Stuart of Scotland was a battered wife.

Though she was queen sovereign of Scotland, the Church made the rules for marriage and divorce which she could not override.  Therefore, the only solution for Mary was to ally herself with enemies of Lord Darnley willing to murder him on her behalf. These allies ultimately proved untrustworthy and Mary eventually lost both her throne and later her head for it.

  1. Queen Elizabeth Tudor was a “virgin” in the sense that she never married.

The word “virgin” originally had nothing to do with vaginal sex, but meant “a free woman, one not betrothed, not bound to, not possessed by any man” (See https://professorwhatif.wordpress.com/2008/08/07/what-if-we-used-the-word-%E2%80%98virgin-in-accordance-with-its-original-meaning/). Therefore, a woman might be sexually active, yet still considered a virgin.

  1. Unlike her cousin Mary, Elizabeth refused to become the property of any man.

“I will have one mistress here and no master,” Queen Elizabeth famously replied to her Parliament in 1566 when her authority was challenged. Therefore, when we call Elizabeth Tudor “the Virgin Queen” what we actually mean is that she was sovereign in her own right, unconstrained by the men in both her personal and political life. Not even Queen Victoria had so much freedom.

  1. Empress Wu Zetian of China allowed a more or less free press during her reign.

In a time where criticizing the emperor was a crime punishable by death, Wu permitted her subjects a great deal of latitude to praise or criticize her as they desired. This allowed scholarship, culture, technology, and the arts to thrive under Wu’s reign. In addition, she abolished the traditional rule by the wealthy elites and replaced it with the Civil Service Exam system which was open to all men, regardless of wealth or class, empowering the poorest of the poor to earn their way into well-paying government jobs when aided by scholarships.  No wonder rich oligarchs hated her!

  1. Empress Matilda was pregnant when her father, King Henry I of England died.

Overlooked by most historians, Matilda was pregnant with her son William when her father died on 1 December 1135.

  1. Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd ap Cyan was related to Empress Matilda of England by marriage.

When Gwenllian married Gruffydd ap Rhys of Deheubarth in 1215 she became sister-in-law to Princess Nest ferch Rhys, one of King Henry of England’s many lovers. Nest gave birth to King Henry’s bastard son Henry Fitzhenry within weeks of Matilda’s own birth on 7 February 1102. This made Gwenllian sister-in-law to the mother of one of Matilda’s many half-brothers.

  1. Under Welsh Law, Prince Henry Fitzhenry of Deheubarth was an heir to his father, King Henry I of England.

Welsh Common Law recognized the legitimacy of all children, regardless of their parents’ marital status at birth, as equal heirs to their parents. Had King Henry of England accepted Welsh inheritance rules, he could have easily named Henry Fitzhenry as heir to the English throne. In theory this could have prevented the nineteen year war between Stephen de Blois and Henry’s sole surviving legitimate child, Empress Matilda of England.

In practice, however, making the half-Welsh Henry Fitzhenry (grandson to King Rhys ap Tewdwr of Deheubarth and nephew by marriage to Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd) would have presented its own political problems. The Church in England fiercely opposed the Welsh legal system because it secularized many domains the Church controlled or attempted to control and provided greater civil liberties to women than the Church considered appropriate. Given the number of senior clergy members in the Witan (German: Witenagemot), it is therefore highly unlikely the Witan would have permitted any of Henry I’s many bastard children to assume the throne which is why Stephen de Blois and Empress Matilda of England were the only two viable candidates for the English throne.

  1. Hypatia of Alexandria was sixty at the time of her murder.

Though the film “Agora” depicts the events of Hypatia’s life happening close together, in reality they happened over a span of decades.  Hypatia was 30 when Theophilus became Patriarch of Alexandria, 36 when the Caesareum and the Temple of Serapis were destroyed by Theophilus and converted into churches, and 50 when her father died in 405. Orestes likewise did not convert to Christianity until after Hypatia’s 50th birthday. With her age adding to her reputation for wisdom, can it be any wonder Hypatia became Enemy Number One in the eyes of Alexandria’s most radical Christians?

  1. Hypatia’s murder ended Alexandria’s golden age.

Not surprisingly, Hypatia’s murder had a chilling effect on Alexandria’s intellectual community.  With its most precious institutions and books destroyed by Patriarchs Theophilus and Cyril and its surviving intellectuals fleeing the city for safer parts of the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, Alexandria became a tiny shadow of its former self under Christian control. In the end, Christian zealots won the immediate war but destroyed the city in the process.


Born, raised, and educated in Lincoln, Nebraska USA Laurel A. Rockefeller
is author of over twenty books published and self-published since
August, 2012 and in languages ranging from Welsh to Spanish to
Chinese and everything in between. A dedicated scholar and
biographical historian, Ms. Rockefeller is passionate about education
and improving history literacy worldwide.

With her lyrical writing style, Laurel’s books are as beautiful to read as
they are informative.
In her spare time, Laurel enjoys spending time with her cockatiels,
attending living history activities, travelling to historic places in
both the United States and United Kingdom, and watching classic
motion pictures and classic television series.
One winner each week
will receive a sapling tree from the Arbor Day Foundation – trees
will vary depending on the winner’s region – US only. There will
also be two random winners for a special mystery prize- drawn at
surprise moments during the tour!
Follow the tour HERE
to discover the other amazing Legendary Women of World History books
and enter the weekly giveaways!
Hypatia of Alexandria
The Legendary Women of World History #8
by Laurel A. Rockefeller
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Teacher. Philosopher. Astronomer.
Born in 355 CE. In the aftermath of Constantine’s reign Hypatia of
Alexandria lived in a collapsing Rome Empire, a world where obedience
to religious authorities trumped science, where reason and logic
threatened the new world order. It was a world on the edge of the
Dark Ages. As libraries burned, she dared defend the light of
knowledge.
**Only .99 cents!!**

Cause for Murder: Hypatia Defends the Jews

By Laurel A. Rockefeller

15th of March, 415 CE. In front of the Caesareum the greatest philosopher, astronomer, and teacher of the late Roman Empire is skinned alive and torn to pieces in a scene of gruesome murder. All of this is done on behalf of the new Patriarch of Alexandria, a man named Cyril, nephew of the great Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria. Cyril had every motive for murder. Not only was Hypatia beautiful enough to tempt any man into sin (even at the age of sixty), but she dared the unthinkable for a woman:  she was political!

Cyril wanted absolute power.  It wasn’t enough that he was the most powerful man in what was becoming Eastern Orthodox Christianity. He needed secular power too! But the government was still Roman and a largely secular authority at that, despite Constantine making Christianity the official state religion just decades before.  Certainly, the government played no favourites among Alexandria’s three main factions:  Greeks, Jews, and Christians. But it did favour the wealthy and the intellectual elite which was heavily Greek and Jewish. Among the Greeks, none were more influential than Hypatia and her late father, Theon of Alexandria.

Hypatia’s place in Alexandria’s intellectual life made her natural allies to Jewish intellectuals, including the local rabbinate whom Cyril hated and rivalled against. Hypatia held no intellectual prejudices; she would learn from and teach anyone regardless of class, religion, or nationality. No book was forbidden to her nor unworthy of study, a lesson she mastered as she helped her father fulfil his duties as head librarian of Alexandria. Could it be any wonder she was the darling of those with a passion for learning?

To Cyril, such unfettered consumption of books was perilous. In his letter to the Colossians Saint Paul wrote, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” Cyril believed this passionately. Like his uncle before him, that verse guided his belief that not only was Christianity the only one true religion, but that everyone must either convert to Christianity or be killed. And not just any Christianity either.  Every Christian must adopt a very specific form of Christian orthodoxy or else be treated the same as Jews and Pagans.

In this orthodoxy, education of females was unconscionable, even if the Roman government did find educating Roman citizen girls important to maintaining an orderly society. Females were to be silent and obedient and defer in all things to men. On this Cyril felt the epistles of St. Paul were quite clear.

Hypatia therefore represented everything that Cyril hated and found intolerable. An educated woman. A philosopher. A scientist. A pagan. A friend to Jews. She read forbidden books and taught forbidden things. She was political and not just political, she was so respected by the Roman authorities that what she advised was usually done.  In every way Hypatia stood in the way of Cyril’s ambition. She was a threat to Christian life and had to die.

Shortly after Hypatia’s murder, her greatest ally in the Roman Empire, Orestes, governor of Egypt mysteriously disappeared.  Coincidence?

Learn more about Hypatia in “Hypatia of Alexandria” by Laurel A. Rockefeller.  Now available for kindle, iBook, Nook, and in paperback at a retailer near you.

Born, raised, and educated in Lincoln, Nebraska USA Laurel A. Rockefeller
is author of over twenty books published and self-published since
August, 2012 and in languages ranging from Welsh to Spanish to
Chinese and everything in between. A dedicated scholar and
biographical historian, Ms. Rockefeller is passionate about education
and improving history literacy worldwide.
With her lyrical writing style, Laurel’s books are as beautiful to read as
they are informative.
In her spare time, Laurel enjoys spending time with her cockatiels,
attending living history activities, travelling to historic places in
both the United States and United Kingdom, and watching classic
motion pictures and classic television series.
Follow the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!